MarketPlace: Handwork of India
MarketPlace: Handwork of India

Have a Heart on Valentine’s Day with Fair Trade Gifts

Buying products that guarantee that the people who made them receive a fair wage and work in safe conditions adds a new level of meaning to gifts. One of the best parts of giving a fair trade gift is that there is always a story to go along with the present, whether it is a necklace from Kenya or a scarf from India.

Evanston, IL, February 08, 2006 --( This Valentine’s Day, more shoppers than ever will be feeling the love in an entirely different way. Fair Trade retailers are expecting sales to continue their upward momentum this Valentine’s Day as growing numbers of people choose gifts for their loved ones that they can feel good about buying.

As consumers become increasingly aware of corporate irresponsibility, more and more are asking questions about the origins of the products they buy.  Women artisans in India, for example, are usually at the very bottom of the wage scale in a country where 35% of the population lives below the poverty line.  The wages of the majority of these artisans are not enough to live on. Fair trade guarantees that artisans receive a living wage, so that consumers know that the money they spend is empowering the producers.

Fair trade provides employment, improved living conditions, dignity, and justice to impoverished communities around the world.  By offering a living wage, credit assistance, long-term working relationships, healthy working conditions, gender equality and environmental sustainability, fair trade significantly impacts the lives of its workers.

The changes fair trade makes in the lives of the workers are dramatic.  MarketPlace: Handwork of India, a non-profit, fair trade organization that sells the handcrafted apparel and home décor items made by collectives of women artisans in Mumbai (Bombay), India, has witnessed remarkable changes in the lives of its workers.  Life expectancy for MarketPlace artisans has increased to 62 years from the national average of 54 years for women. The average female child of a MarketPlace artisan will finish the 10th grade, while most Indian girls only complete 4th. MarketPlace artisans work an average of 9 months of the year.  Most of the artisans had no income and were considered unemployable before becoming part of a cooperative. 

Their online store at has unique gift items like hand-beaded necklaces, apparel with beautifully stitched embroidery and curtains printed using centuries-old Indian dying techniques.  For those who are difficult to shop for, MarketPlace also offers gift certificates.

MarketPlace is one of many fair trade retailers offering socially conscious gifts at their online stores.  Global Exchange’s online store at offers a range of fair trade chocolate.  According to the US State Department child slavery is used on many of the cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast of Africa, which is responsible for producing 43% of the chocolate sold worldwide.  The major chocolate making companies have done little to stop it.  Fair trade chocolate is an ethical and tasty alternative for Valentine’s Day gifts.

Global Girlfriend at sells fair trade products from a variety of sources worldwide.  Especially great for Valentine’s Day gifts is their selection of beautiful purses and bags.  These are no ordinary handbags, but rather ‘purses with a story.’  For example, the fashionable “Boho Knit Tote” was made by a fair trade organization in Vietnam that was founded to bring jobs to poor women in and around Hanoi.

Ten Thousand Villages is another retailer that offers fair trade items from producers around the world.  An entire section on their website at is dedicated to special Valentine’s Day themed gifts including a heart-shaped bead choker from India and beautiful handmade cards from the Philippines.

For those who are looking to make their purchases in an actual store instead of a virtual one, Ten Thousand Villages and another fair trade retailer, A Greater Gift (, have stores all across the US.  Store locators can be found on their websites.  Additionally, the products of MarketPlace: Handwork of India are carried at select boutiques across the US.  Customers can call 1-800-726-8905 to be directed to a boutique that carries the MarketPlace line in their area.

MarketPlace: Handwork of India
Casey Runyan or Kahindo Mateene